Baker locked up second place in the Greater Oregon League baseball standings and strengthened its positioning for the Class 4A playoffs with a dominating sweep of Ontario on Thursday, May 5, at Ontario.
Baker won the opener 20-0 and the second game 17-1 to improve its league record to 8-2.
The Bulldogs, 14-9 overall, trail only La Grande, which is 10-0 in GOL play, 21-1 overall and ranked fourth in the state.
Baker’s two league losses were to La Grande in a doubleheader on April 20 at the Baker Sports Complex. Baker concludes its GOL schedule by traveling to La Grande for a doubleheader on Friday, May 13. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.
“It’s a tall order for us,” Baker coach Tim Smith said of the upcoming rematch against La Grande. The Tigers have not only been winning, they’ve been annihilating their opponents, not allowing a single run in their past 10 games. That streak includes 10-0 and 16-0 wins over Baker.
“I think they’re the best team in the state overall,” Smith said of La Grande.
On Thursday at Ontario, Baker led from the start, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning of the opener.
Baker scored both runs without the benefit of a hit.
Jaxon Logsdon and Connor Chastain both walked to start the game. Logsdon stole second and third, and scored on a passed ball.
Chastain scored Baker’s second run on Logan Capon’s groundout.
Two runs were more than enough for the Bulldogs with pitcher Silas Carter stifling the Tigers from the start.
Carter, who had a no-hitter broken up by a single in the last inning, allowed just one hit and one walk, striking out 10 in a six-inning complete game win.
Baker added three runs in the top of the third, and this time the Bulldogs used hits to add to their lead.
Capon and Carter each had RBI singles.
Baker extended its lead to 6-0 with a run in the fourth. After a scoreless fifth inning, Baker unleashed an offensive onslaught in the top of the sixth that resulted in 14 runs, a single-inning season high for the Bulldogs.
Twenty Baker batters came to the plate during the inning, which featured seven hit batters, five Baker hits, three walks and two errors.
Logsdon finished the game 2 for 3 with four RBIs, Capon was 1 for 3 with three RBIs, and Carter and Cole Hester had two RBIs each.
Smith said he was a bit disappointed with Baker’s hitting early in the game.
“We didn’t swing it as well as we should against average pitching,” he said, pointing out that Baker scored both first-inning runs without a hit.
“We didn’t really go out and earn them,” Smith said. “We capitalized on their mistakes.”
The second game followed a similiar script.
Baker again took a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
And the Bulldogs got another dominating pitching performance, this time from Capon, who yielded four hits and struck out five.
Smith said both Capon and Carter were “outstanding” on the mound.
Smith called Baker’s defense “phenomenal,” as the Bulldogs had two errors in each game.
Ontario scored its lone run, unearned, in the bottom of the third to briefly trim Baker’s lead to 3-1.
But the Bulldogs scored five runs in the top of the fourth to take control. And Baker didn’t need any help from miscues by Ontario pitchers or fielders.
Baker had eight straight hits in the inning, including an RBI double by Aldo Duran and a two-run triple from Logsdon. Hudson Spike’s RBI single boosted Baker’s lead to 8-1.
As in the first game, Baker finished the second with a big inning. This time the Bulldogs plated nine runs on seven hits.
Smith said Baker batters were much more effective in the latter portions of both games, waiting on pitches and driving balls into the gaps.
“From the third inning on of both games we hit the ball well,” he said.
Baker finished with 17 hits in the second game. Duran was 2 for 4 with four RBIs. Cody Skidgel, Capon and Logsdon had two RBIs each.
Baker will host a playoff game on May 21, the opponent to be determined.
Smith said Baker can increase its seeding position “quite a bit” by winning at least one game at La Grande on May 13. The higher Baker’s seed, the lower rated its playoff opponent will be.